Who Says Wal-Mart Is a Villain?

We've received a good bit of mail this past week on our Wal-Mart stories.

It seems states are mad as heck that they're getting saddled with expensive Medicaid bills because the retailer doesn't provide health benefits for many of its workers.

The state of Maryland is going so far as to force the retailer to insure folks.

Look, I know it's getting increasingly popular to say "screw you" to Wal-Mart, but would it kill anyone to simply say "thank you" to Wal-Mart?

Thank you for the jobs you provide.

Thank you for the low prices you offer.

Thank you for the opportunities you give to regions of the country long forgotten and classes of customers long dismissed.

Look, I know that Wal-Mart is no saint. It's in a tough business and it's certainly a tough player — to consumers' benefit and to workers' benefit too.

Because you know something, last time I checked, not once did I see a cashier chained to her register or a greeter handcuffed to the front door. Most are happy to have found work.

And imagine the plight of all those states if they didn't have all those jobs? What would their Medicaid bills look like then?

All I'm saying is that when I was a kid stacking groceries, I didn't have health benefits. I worked part-time. So too do more than half of Wal-Mart's workers.

Companies are obliged to look after their workers. They're not obliged to provide cradle to grave support to those workers, especially to the vast majority — as in Wal-Mart's case — who come and go or who only want to work part-time.

When you start obligating a big retailer to provide benefits for all, it's only a matter of time before you ask the mom-and-pop store to do the same.

It's just galling to me that states that can't handle their own expenses have the unmitigated nerve to stick it to companies that clearly can.

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